Helping Hands

Volunteer Melanie Caraway assists a family that came to Helping Hands Ministry in Belton on Thursday to pick up groceries.

It’s still hot outside and expected to remain so for awhile.

In spite of the less than ideal weather conditions for conjuring up plans for the holidays, Helping Hands Ministry in Belton is hoping people will understand the need to collect the funds now — during Hunger Action Month — that are necessary to provide clients with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

The Belton ministry has chosen this month to shine a light on the issues of hunger.

In Bell County, one in five people struggle with hunger. In Texas, one in seven people are food insecure and the number of food insecure children in Texas is one in four.

“Food insecurity means that a family does not have consistent access to the food they need because of a lack of money or other resources at times during the year,” said Tasha Roberts, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry.

Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas can put a financial strain on area families. During those holidays Helping Hands Ministry distributes groceries for meals to around 850 families living in Belton and Academy school districts. The meals are sponsored by community members who donate $20 family meals.

This year, the goal is to provide holiday meals for 1,700 clients, according to Helping Hands Ministry.

Food pantries in Temple are seeing more people seeking assistance.

AC Blunt, director of Love of Christ Food Bank, said the food bank had handed out meals to more than 200 clients this week.

“We thought that we might have to prepare more bags,” Blunt said.

The belief was that the number of families seeking assistance would reduce once school started, but that hasn’t been the case, he said. Twelve new families signed up for food this week.

“Our records go back a number of years so we would know if they had previously signed up for assistance with us or with another area food pantry,” Blunt said.

St. Vincent de Paul has seen the local needs increase at its Thursday food pantry, which served 110 clients this week, said Caitlyn West, assistant director of Temple St. Vincent de Paul.

“There are a lot of people struggling in our community,” she said. “We usually see more need in the fall and winter.”

Churches Touching Lives for Christ food pantry had 126 clients, including 11 new families show up for food distribution on Tuesday, said Chris Ballard, interim director.

New to the job, Ballard said, it all seems to work out, the people come and God sends the food.

When CTLC didn’t receive the rice it had ordered, Ballard said she called Love of Christ and traded bottled water for rice.

Helping Hands Ministry’s holiday meals are made up of a 10-12 pound turkey or ham, a choice of groceries, including stuffing mixes, boxed potatoes, cornbread mix, green beans, fried onions, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin, pie crust mix, flour, sugar, masa, oil and more.

During the month, Helping Hands Ministry wants to raise awareness of the challenges one in five Bell County families face in providing consistent access to nutritious food for their families, Roberts said.

TO HELP

To donate to Helping Hands, visit helpinghandsbelton.org/hunger action month, or mail checks to P.O. Box 1923, Belton, Texas, 76513 with Hunger Action Month in the memo line.

Other agencies that provide aid are Churches Touching Lives for Christ, 702 W. Ave. G in Temple, or call 254-778-6885; St. Vincent de Paul, 106 W. Ave D. in Temple, or call 254-773-7591; and Love of Christ, 2000 Airport Road, 254-774-8411.